The choreography of disgust understood

The enactment of disgust is an inherently social event, argues a paper published in the British Journal of Social Psychology today.

Dr Sally Wiggins from the University of Strathclyde analysed a large body of video and audio recordings of mealtimes in England and Scotland, concentrating on the use and significance of words that mark disgust, such as 'eugh' and 'yuck'.

Her analysis showed that these disgust markers are typically preceded by a 'noticing' by speakers and that 'Eugh!' is usually uttered alone and at the start of a turn in talk.  Dr Wiggins argues that disgust markers alert others to a trouble source and give them the entitlement to feel and show disgust themselves.  

Dr Wiggins says: “Disgust is a complex phenomenon that pervades a number of social situations.  To date, it has primarily been understood as an individually experienced emotion or as a way of defining boundaries between people or objects. The detailed social practices through which disgust is choreographed, however, have yet to be fully explored.

“The social implications of disgust are particularly apparent when food and eating are involved, so the setting for this paper is family mealtimes, These are settings in which children and parents explore the boundaries of what is, and what is not, disgusting.”